“I was hired to follow you around and within two hours, I found out who you are, your secret identity, and who among your friends knows your secret identity…”
Civil War II gets very real for Miles, but not before a confrontation with Jessica Jones and Luke Cage!
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTIST: Nico Leon
COLOR ARTIST: Marte Gracia
LETTERER: VC’s Cory Petit
COVER ARTISTS: Sara Pichelli & Jason Keith
TITLE PAGE DESIGN: Nicholas Russell
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Allison Stock
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Devin Lewis
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
STORY: Miles gets confronted by Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, who tell him to be better about hiding his identity. He swings off to meet the other Avengers, who are going to talk to Bruce Banner. After Banner is assassinated, Miles, Nova, and Ms. Marvel try and comfort each other as they ponder who’s next.
THOUGHTS: Strap in for the most Civil War II-iest of Miles’ new title yet! Starting with the cover, Pichelli shows the next generation turning their backs on their predecessors. I had to laugh regarding how Nova was depicted. Whilst I found it amusing, it does throw the image off balance since we only have a floating helmet and not a full body.
Leon again returns to pencil the issue, literally picking up at the final panel of the previous comic, but with the characters positioned just a notch to the side, with a lens flare tossed in for good measure. Whilst the camera angle puts Luke and Jessica in a position of power over Miles, the dialogue doesn’t have them come off as threatening as #7’s conclusion did. Throughout the issue, Leon plays with the size of Miles’ eye lenses to help him emote, which is not uncommon at all for a Spider artist to do, but he proves that he has already mastered this method of expression on this outing. I daresay I like his rendering of the mask more than Pichelli’s as his take reminds me a bit of Mark Bagley at times.
As Luke Cage’s own live-action series is about to drop on Netflix this month, he and his wife, Jessica Jones, dominate the first third of this issue in a bit of corporate synergy. It should come as no surprise that Bendis captures the relationship between Jessica and Luke well, especially as he’s the one who created it back in Alias #1. They have the snappy repartee of a couple that has been together a long time and Bendis puts it on display several times, culminating in Luke asking Jessica if she wants to make out after Spidey webs away.
The opening scene has a lot to love as the Gloria subplot reaches a turning point as Jessica reveals who hired her and Rio’s attempts to foil it. Luke and Jessica really are right, though. Miles does need to keep a better lid on his ID, even though I can’t blame him for Ganke spilling the beans to Fabio. A LOT of people, including the Black Cat and Hammerhead, have seen him unmasked, which is even more dangerous considering the current state of facial recognition software. S.H.I.E.L.D. might have his back with some of that, but what if someone like Hammerhead saw him walking down the street with his family?
Miles gushes a little over Luke Cage, letting him know how much his father respects him. Luke tries to return the favor by letting him in on something FalCap shared with him, but it also takes some of the wind out of Miles’ sails, too, as he’s still got a ways to go before reaching his full potential. Leon sells Miles’ emotions well, even covered head to toe in spandex, as his body language, dejected shoulders and all, convey the myriad of feelings Miles goes through during this rooftop chat. Miles still doesn’t want to deal with the “kid of color” topic, offering no remark as Luke provides his own two cents on the issue. Miles departs by using a web-slingshot, a move I love seeing in movies, games, comics, you name it.
Nova’s introduction and the way it’s portrayed continues the comic relief for this issue. He’s way more optimistic than he should be, or maybe just naive. Once he and Miles make it to the Triskelion the issue takes a tonal shift, a fact the two young heroes realize as they see the assembled faces. It’s a shame that we don’t see any interaction between Peter and Miles in this scene. For one, having not read the main Civil War II series, I’d like to know Peter’s position and I’m curious if he would try and sway Miles’ thinking. As we saw earlier in this series, he seemed to take his successor’s actions very seriously. Also, Pichelli’s cover seems to allude to this, but the closest the two are in proximity to each other this issue is in the advertisement for the new ARTFX+ Kotobukiya statue line, which looks, ahem, AMAZING, by the way.
As the heroes get their mission brief from Captain Marvel with commentary by Tony Stark they all have to decide personally if they want to be involved. In true Spidey fashion, I like that Miles feels a sense of responsibility, even if it’s towards the mission. You see the younger heroes’ bond as they discuss their choices together and the admiration and awe that Ms. Marvel holds for Captain Marvel. Bendis closes out the scene well, with Miles uttering, “Nothing will happen.” and then cutting to an hour later where something very much happened, mainly the assassination of Bruce Banner.
As the heroes stand around in shock and anger, Ulysses sees Miles from across the way and gives him a startled look. If you’ve seen upcoming covers or read solicits, you know this doesn’t bode well for the young Web-Spinner. It’s here that Nova and Miles side with #TeamIronMan and Ms. Marvel seems to go along with her friends, if only because she is stunned by what just happened.
As those who sided with Iron Man leave the scene in their jet, Miles lets his teammates know about the Ulysses stare. Sam tries to make light, but it only prompts Kamala to cry. She’s lost faith in Captain Marvel and whilst Leon goes cartoony for a panel as Sam starts to freak out over how to comfort her, he quickly dials it back down as Spidey and Nova just try to be there for their teammate and offer their reassuring hands. It’s a simple moment, but it’s easily the most touching, making it my favorite part of this issue.
Tony is understandably upset that his “Science Bro” has been murdered. I never felt that the two were that close outside of the Marvel movies, so it’s no surprise that Bendis reflects some of that corporate synergy here. Having Cap in the scene trying to offer consolation rings hollow to me, given that readers know his current secret allegiance. It’s hard for me to not hear Robert Downey, Jr. as I read Stark’s dialogue these days. The issue finishes out with some foreshadowing as a close up on Miles has him asking, “Who’s next?” Who indeed…
This was probably my favorite issue of this relaunched series to date. I may miss Pichelli’s pencils, but Leon is more than up to the task with his own style and I look forward to seeing his art again next issue. Bendis provides a strong script with some great character moments, balancing humor and tragedy. Really, this is just an issue with a lot of talking. We don’t see the fight, only the aftermath of the conflict. In fact, not once do we even see Miles with his mask off, relying solely on the eye expressions and body language that Leon provides us, yet we know what he’s feeling at all times. A solid crossover issue that moves Miles’ story along and still provides insight by offering a different perspective to the main event.
MY GRADE: A
JAVI’S HUH?: Did Miles’ shock and disappointment cause his spider emblem to fall off?